Roger Diez: All-star weekend for NASCAR

Roger Diez

Roger Diez

This will be a busy weekend for race fans with the NASCAR All-Star race in Texas, Formula 1 in Spain, and qualifying for the Indy 500.
Last Sunday the 11th 2022 NASCAR Cup race-winner, Kurt Busch, secured a playoff berth as Toyotas dominated the 400-mile race at Kansas Speedway. Busch won a thrilling late-race duel with Kyle Larson, who got up close and personal with the outside wall on several occasions. All six Toyotas, four Joe Gibbs cars and the two 23XI machines, finished in the top 10. This weekend will not see another playoff winner added, because it’s the annual non-points All-Star race at Texas Motor Speedway. The 20 drivers locked into the field include race winners from the 2021 and 2022 seasons, previous All-Star race winners, and NASCAR Cup champions who have entered every race this season. Stage winners from the All-Star Open and the fan vote winner will also join the field. Qualifying for starting positions is so complicated I don’t have room to explain it here. You’ll just have to watch it on FS1 at 4 p.m. Saturday. Also airing Saturday on FS1 is the Xfinity series’ Texas 250 at 10:30 a.m. Sunday it’s the All-Star Open at 2:30 p.m. and the All-Star race at 5 p.m., both on FS1. The Open is three stages of 20, 20, and 10 laps and the All-Star has four stages of 25, 25, 25, and 50 laps with a special stage break/pit stop competition between stages two and three. There will also be a special All-Star competition caution between laps 15 and 25 in the final stage if there is no “natural” caution by then. In my humble opinion, this event has gotten to the point that even the WWE would think twice about staging it.
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The NTT IndyCar series’ month of May kicked off last weekend with the wild GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The race ran in wet/dry/partially wet conditions with a wet front straight and a dry back side of the course at times. This led to chaotic tire strategies as teams switched from wet to dry tires and back again. Colton Herta and his team managed the conditions best and were rewarded with a win, their first of the season. The win vaulted Herta into sixth in the championship points, just one behind five-time champion Scott Dixon.
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Practice for the Indy 500 commenced last Tuesday with qualifying scheduled for Saturday and pole qualifying Sunday. Takuma Sato set fastest time on opening day with a lap of 228.939 mph. Scott Dixon was second at 227.768 and Jimmie Johnson, who has struggled adapting to Indy cars on road courses, was third at 227.722. Saturday’s qualifying action airs on Peacock from 9 a.m. to 2:50 p.m. with pole qualifying on both Peacock and NBC Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
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This weekend Formula 1 is at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix, the sixth race of the 22-race season. What I had hoped would be a much more competitive season for multiple teams seems to be shaping up as another two-horse race. Only this time it’s not Mercedes and Red Bull, but Red Bull and Ferrari. Thus far only those two teams have scored victories, two for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and three for Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. Mercedes is languishing a distant third in the manufacturers’ championship with drivers George Russell fourth and Lewis Hamilton sixth in drivers’ championship points. Qualifying airs on ESPN2 at 6:55 a.m. Saturday with the race one hour earlier on Sunday, also on ESPN2.

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